Ragging rage

Jehan and team
Jehan and team

CentreStage Productions is gearing up for their most ambitious project yet – the spectacular production of ‘Rag – The Musical’, which will run for four performances on November 2, 4 and 5 at the Lionel Wendt Theatre, Colombo.

Rag is a dramatic musical that deals with the topical issue of ragging sensitively and intelligently. The performance has been a crowd-puller in the past, with full houses and standing ovations every night. The show has been featured in the foreign press around the world, as well as by the BBC. The show will be a fund-raiser for our theatre-based humanitarian work conducted through our StageHands Project.

‘Ragging’ (or hazing’) refers to the humiliating acts that undergraduates or ‘freshers’ are forced to undergo by their seniors as a form of initiation into an academic institution. These acts are not innocent fun and games, but have scarred students both physically and emotionally, causing them to drop out or in several cases to commit suicide. The show educates students and those in positions of authority on the ills of ragging, and is thus an excellent vehicle for introducing these issues and opening up a forum for discussion. As CentreStage Productions also has a psychosocial component though their ‘StageHands’ volunteer project, which is funded by the proceeds from their plays, a series of ‘Forum Theatre’ workshops are planned in selected schools in order build awareness of the issue and promote the production.

“Rag is my most passionate project, and I’ve been refining it over 20 years! For me, writing the play was sometimes ‘inspiration’ and sometimes ‘documentation’. I have always been passionate about the issue of youth violence and bullying. It is something my University batch (or ‘Ala Gansiya’) was able to change in our own peaceful way many years ago. In fact, some of the most unlikely incidents in the play have their roots in reality - especially that moment in the reprise of ‘Power of One’ when the students spontaneously form a human barrier to stop the fighting. In addition, when one considers some of the major episodes and tragedies within the plot, the script has proven to be uncannily prophetic foretelling events were to take place several years after it was written,” noted Jehan Aloysius.

He says that he is especially grateful to his friend and collaborator Avanti Perera, who has over the last ten years, given so generously of her time and talent while performing the music with him. He is also thankful to Deshan Cooray and Eshantha Peiris who have written such complex choral arrangements which have enhanced the show.

“The brand new cast is working hard to master the gamut of new skills necessary for this physically and emotionally challenging show. I am so very proud of the fact that all the leads are fresh faces in English theatre, who have not been featured before. My troupe and I are also grateful for the support of the British Council and Mascons who have thus far come to support us in some capacity. It is unfortunate to note however, that major sponsorship for home grown original theatre does not receive the financial support of corporate entities that prefer pre-packaged imports as viable commercial partnerships.

Thus, the theatre ‘Rag – The Musical’, just as our many original works over the last 16 years, will utilise ‘Theatre of Poverty’ techniques which focus on the maximum impact created by the energy and talent of the actors and creative staging, rather than the other elements,” Jehan adds.

CentreStage Productions, founded by Jehan, has produced excellent quality theatre productions, which have often sold out even before opening night.

The musical, which is filled with memorable melodies and meaningful lyrics, presents a positive message of non-violence and unity which is relevant to students in all educational institutions.

The show is supported by The British Council, Mascons Ltd, Ambrosia. 


The ‘Power of One’ workshops

CentreStage Productions and our humanitarian arm the StageHands Project plan to conduct a series of workshops with pre-adult and young adult students from educational institutions on the issue of ragging and bullying. This will be a continuation of our ‘Theatre for Social Change’ projects initiated in 2005. It is open to students between 16 to 22 years. You need to register before August 5. 


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